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Seroquel: New Weapon against Bipolar Depression
After an eight-week study of 1,045 patients with bipolar depression, upon thorough weighing all the pros and cons of the results the trial obtained, the American Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Seroquel for the treatment of both manic and depressive episodes of bipolar depression.
Previously, the drug was allowed to fight the symptoms of schizophrenia and manic episodes of bipolar disorder. October, 20, 2006 Seroquel became the first medication officially recognized as an effective measure to suppress both manic and depressive stages of bipolar depression.
Seroquel is an antipsychotic drug with quetiapine fumarate as an active ingredient. It belongs to the class of dibenzothiazepine derivatives – chemicals, which work in the brain decreasing the amount of several neurotransmitters. The latter are the messengers helping brain cells to communicate with each other.
Although the actual mechanism of quetiapine fumarate still remains a mystery for the modern scientists, they nevertheless suggest that this chemical affects mainly dopamine and serotonin, reducing their levels in the human brain. It may also decrease histamine amounts.
Antipsychotic drugs like Seroquel are associated with the potentially fatal condition neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), the symptoms of which include fever, convulsions, breathing difficulties, muscle rigidity, altered mental status, irregular pulse or blood pressure, rapid heart rate, excessive sweating, heart arrhythmias and back, neck, or leg pain.
A long-term use of Seroquel may lead to the disorder called tardive dyskinesia, which manifest itself through involuntary, uncoordinated and uncontrolled movements of the jaw, lips, and tongue.  Older adults, especially women,are more prone to the experiencing this disorder while on Seroquel.
A number of less serious side effects associated with this drug are dizziness, headache, tiredness, dry mouth, upset stomach, weight gain, abdominal pain, flu-like symptoms, hypotension, arms and legs swelling, sweating, sedation, sleepiness, etc. The drug may also increase blood glucose, bad cholesterol, and triglycerides levels.
In order to avoid side effects experiencing, doctors usually recommend starting the treatment with the lowest safe dose (100 mg. a day), gradually increasing it to the most effective one. Studies conducted report no increase in the drug’s effectiveness due to the higher doses used; therefore, it is said that a daily intake of 300 mg. of Seroquel divided into three equal parts is enough to see the improvements in the patient’s state.
On the other hand, people with the history of liver and cardiovascular disorders, or seizures, and those with the family history of diabetes, obesity, lipid disorders, heart diseases, and blood pressure problems may need dose adjustments or may be advised against the use of this antipsychotic pill.
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Similarly, the risks and benefits of Seroquel treatment must be carefully weighed before prescribing this medicine to pregnant and breastfeeding women. Children are not allowed to take this drug.
Seroquel may interact with a large number of medications: antihypertensive and anti-Parkinson medicines, sedatives, barbiturates, narcotic pain relievers, anticonvulsants, antifungals, and antibiotics, etc.
Finally, it should be noted that Seroquel is for the short-term treatment (not more than three weeks) of bipolar depression. It is a comparatively new medication indicated for eliminating the symptoms of this disorder; thus, one should strictly follow doctor’s recommendations and prescribing information in order not to suffer serious side effects.

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